(10:45 p.m. EDT) -- Carnival Cruise Line has canceled all departures of Carnival Fascination through to the end of January 2018 so that the ship can be used for hurricane relief workers in the Caribbean. The ship will be chartered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for almost four months in a last-minute deal.
The cruise line posted on its website today: “Earlier this week, we communicated that we were ready to resume our operation from San Juan on Carnival Fascination, with our first cruise departing this Sunday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has since asked us to support the relief and rebuilding efforts and Carnival Fascination has been chartered to provide housing for relief workers in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This means the ship’s departures from October 15, 2017 through January 28, 2018 will be canceled. Carnival Fascination will return to year-round service from San Juan beginning February 18, 2018.”
During the period in between the charter and the next scheduled cruise, Carnival Fascination will be sent for its scheduled dry dock (January 31 to February 17, 2018) in the Grand Bahama shipyard to receive new features including Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina.
Passengers booked on the cancelled cruises will receive a refund of their cruise fare and any other pre-purchased products.
John Heald posted on Facebook: “Your cruise refunds will be automatically processed to the original form of payment and there will be a letter sent to each of you with details of this and how we will help each guest who has had their cruise canceled and offer future cruise discounts. We have reached out to our airline partners to request their cooperation in waiving change fees and will also be working with our guests on non-refundable airline change fees.”
Carnival Cruise Line also apologized for the multiple cancelations: “We recognize how important vacations are and we sincerely apologize for the disruption this late change in plans has caused our guests and travel partners. We value your trust in us and hope you understand that this decision was made after careful consideration of the great need to support the recovery efforts in the region.”
Fascination will be the second ship chartered by FEMA for relief efforts. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Celebration has been used to accommodate first responders in St. Thomas since September.
--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor